Help me to find the perfect passive-aggressive gift for the holidays. Long story follows.
posted by InnocentBystander to human relations (97 answers total) 77 users marked this as a favorite
My mom, let's call her Betty, is married to my dad, let's call him Emmanuel. My mom, one year ago, met her first high school boyfriend -- call him James -- on classmates.com, and promptly fell in love all over again with the boy she knew at age 15. He has been nothing but a dick. My parents are still married and have an active sex life, but, to my father's chagrin, my mother is still in love with James (though has only had sex with him a few times).
To make matters more complicated, my parents are now legal guardians of James' daughter from his first marriage -- he's been married three times. He isn't much of a dad, and his first wife (who had custody until last summer) was neglectful and terrible. The daughter, Sally, is awesome. I love her.
However, I do not love James. It's not a matter of not liking the stepdad type of guy. It's because he's made my mother go totally body dysmorphic and weird. After he showed her photos of his recent hot blonde girlfriends, my mother dyed her hair blonde and became anorexic. She has lost 100 pounds in the last year, but not through moderate exercise and a good diet. She's starving herself. She is in AWFUL shape. He's encouraging it, to the point where she's expecting to get platic surgery to take off any remaining extra pounds and he's offering to pay. This is killing my mother, in a very literal way, but no one can do anything about it -- my dad is too afraid of losing her to bring it up, and if I bring it up, she assumes I'm jealous of her "fabulous" weight loss.
So I am definitely -- DEFINITELY -- not okay with James coming to the Christmas gathering of my family even though his daughter will be there. I want to throttle him. However, it is the only time of year I really get to see my dad and my sister, and Sally, so I want to see them. Complicating matters further, my mother has informed me that James has bought us a $500+ gift and that she expects us to have something for him.
So, we will, because I would prefer not to make my mother angry. However, I would like to get something that expresses the fact that I cannot fucking stand this person and am getting him a gift purely out of obligation. I am typically an awesome giftgiver who gets amazing, unique things people love but never knew existed, but when it comes to buying something for a person I hate, I am at a loss.
So that's where you come in.
I need a sub-$50 gift that makes my mother's boyfriend feel like complete shit, while not being so directly aggressive or rude that it causes a problem. The words we are looking for here are PLAUSIBLE DENIABILITY. This gift should look, for all intents and purposes, like a lovely gift. It should just gnaw at him from the inside.
He likes expensive bullshit, like expensive ties and socks, so even ties and socks are straight out. He is self-conscious and insecure about his body, his capabilities as a father, and he is incredibly embarrassed about sex. Gifts can play off of any of these, with the caveat that anything I get him will also be opened in front of my father and I would not like him to be sad.
So, what would you get for the most hated member of your family? Please, no lectures on my lack of class, I'm aware of it. Also, not going is not an option. Neither is not giving a gift. Please help with the actual question.